Next Generation Nutritional Biomarkers: The Big Picture

Speaker: B. Ommen Presented at: 84th Nestlé Nutrition Institute Workshop - Switzerland

Summary

Human health is based on a complex network of interactions between biochemical pathways, mechanisms, processes and organs. We adapt to the ever changing environment, influenced by factors such as diet, stress and exercise, to maintain internal homeostasis. In this presentation, van Ommen explained these interactions within the context of nutrition. He argued that health should not be about suppressing symptoms. Rather, health should be about maintaining and optimizing flexibility of all relevant processes to adapt. Nutrition plays a crucial role in optimizing this flexibility. Biomarkers serve two crucial goals: to report on health improvement or health maintenance instead of disease progression, and to empower individual patients to achieve this. As many factors may contribute to each individual’s phenotypic flexibility, health could be quantified as the ability to adapt to changes. Multiple processes can lead to loss in flexibility. For this reason, van Ommen suggested that the next generation of biomarkers should quantify health, not just disease.